A Prayer in Growing Older

Psalm 71:9 (ESV) … “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.”


Cast me not off in the time of old age. When old age comes with its infirmities; its weaknesses; its trials. When my strength fails me; when my eyes grow dim; when my knees totter; when my friends have died; when I am no longer able to labour for my support; when the buoyant feelings of earlier years are no more; when my old companions and associates are gone, and I am left alone. Thou who didst watch over me in infancy; who didst guard me in childhood and youth; who hast defended me in manhood; who hast upheld me in the days of sickness, danger, bereavement, trouble,—do thou not leave me when, in advanced years, I have peculiar need of thy care; when I have reason to apprehend that there may come upon me, in that season of my life, troubles that I have never known before; when I shall not have the strength, the buoyancy, the elasticity, the ardour, the animal spirits of other years, to enable me to meet those troubles; and when I shall have none of the friends to cheer me whom I had in the earlier periods of my course. It is not unnatural or improper for a man who sees old age coming upon him to pray for special grace, and special strength, to enable him to meet what he cannot ward off, and what he cannot but dread;—for who can look upon the infirmities of old age as coming upon himself but with sad and pensive feelings? Who would wish to be an old man? Who can look upon a man tottering with years, and broken down with infirmities,—a man whose sight and hearing are gone,—a man who is alone amidst the graves of all the friends that he had in early life,—a man who is a burden to himself and to the world, a man who has reached the “last scene of all, that ends the strange eventful history,”—that scene of


“Second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything,”—

that scene when one can say,

“I have lived long enough; my way of life

Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf;

And that which should accompany old age,

As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,

I must not look to have,”—


who can think of all this, and not pray for special grace for himself should he live to see those days of infirmity and weakness? And who, in view of such infirmities, can fail to see the propriety of seeking the favour of God in early years? Comp. Eccles. 12:1–6.


Forsake me not when my strength faileth. As I may expect it to do, when I grow old. A man can lay up nothing better for the infirmities of old age than the favour of God sought, by earnest prayer, in the days of his youth and his maturer years.[1]




[1] Barnes, A. (1870–1872). Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms (Vol. 2, pp. 236–237). London: Blackie & Son.